THE DECEMBERISTS – The Hazards of Love (2009)

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love I don’t have a lot of money, but if I did, I’d be willing to bet a sizable chunk of it on the fact that most Decemberists fans are gonna absolutely hate The Hazards of Love. And me? Well, I love it. But then again, unlike your average Decemberists fan, I routinely worship at the altars of Camel and The Flower Kings. So, that there should explain the prog discrepancy between myself and…well, most other indie fans.

The Decemberists have always had some significant prog leanings; their last album, The Crane Wife, had some songs that gleefully channeled the genre’s 1970’s glory – the most auspicious of these was The Island, a song that would’ve sounded right at home on King Crimson’s Islands. But The Hazards of Love goes beyond mere essence channeling and achieves something greater than simply being reminiscent of another era: it sounds as if it validates it. With all the unhinged prog and gentle folk on full display here, The Hazards of Love is decidedly (and delightfully) antiquated, yet at the same time, it feels modern. A paradoxical statement, I must admit, but a true one. If you’re not following me, allow me to rephrase: if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if The Decemberists did an entire album in the style of their criminally underrated EP, The Tain, wonder no more, because this right here, is it.

Even though there’s seventeen tracks on the album, it’s essentially one ever-shifting composition, so breaking it down for analysis isn’t easy, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid totally fucking destroys, and the cyclical nature of the four movements of the title track are a joy to revel in (listen to them in sequential order, separated from the rest of the album – it’s a wonderful experience, much like properly arranging the movements of The Crane Wife was). Ultimately, though, it’s hard to compare The Hazards of Love to the rest of The Decemberists’ oeuvre, as it’s so drastic a departure. But ten years from now, I can see people citing it as the band’s masterwork. It’s a towering and vast album, and it’s not easy to wrap your head around the first few times through. But it’s intriguing and powerful enough to return to, again and again.

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3 Responses to “THE DECEMBERISTS – The Hazards of Love (2009)”

  1. […] Hi-Def Audio new thoughts on new music « THE DECEMBERISTS – The Hazards of Love (2009) […]

  2. […] am. Really. But your magnificent performance as The Queen in The Decemberists’ latest album, The Hazards of Love, has just been bested by Natasha Khan (Bat For Lashes) in her latest album, Two Suns. Now, […]

  3. […] what an album is saying in order for it to be moving and emotionally resonant (see: The Decemberists and Mastodon). That being said, VS. Children resides in a curious musical vortex, wherein too much […]

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